Big Picture - November/December 2017 - 13
Interior décor and textiles?
RK: As you walk the tradeshow floors the past few years, there
is a definite trend in soft signage - printed fabric stretched on
a frame. It hasn't caught on so much for our retail customers
for in-store signage and P-O-P, however. In this realm, the
savings in shipping weight and costs could be substantial. We
are definitely watching this growing trend.
CR: With OEMs' push of small latex and UV printers and the
additional support and training they are providing, along with
the advent of websites like Etsy, I think [the future of] digital
printing for home décor is a bright one.
JS: As fabric options increase, so do customer demands and
the potential uses. The sky is the limit.
MT: Digital technology has opened the door for more
customization of interiors, especially in wallcoverings and
permanent décor items such as canvas prints and framed
graphics. In the temporary P-O-P market, textiles will
remain a challenge due to cost and finishing requirements.
Interior décor programs can provide consistent revenue over
CR: Given that most manufacturing is done overseas, I see a
reduction in large flexo runs. But I see a future for digital
large-format in the packaging industry as print runs become
smaller and the ability for manufacturers to print shorter runs
using a digital press increases.
JS: We don't do much in packaging at all, but the industry
conferences show a huge upside coming.
KG: Exciting technology; not sure how to monetize it.
Ask me in six months if we found it. This is sure to be one of
those "kids, don't try this at home" moments.
CR: I don't see a viable future in the print industry. Perhaps for
mold makers and parts manufacturers.
MT: I believe 3D printing will continue to provide value in
niche markets mainly related to prototypes or one-off
production applications. We do not anticipate adopting the
technology as a direct sale to our clientele.
KG: Speed will always be a defining advantage in our industry.
Single-pass needs to become cost competitive.
RK: The single-pass presses on the market now are very
exciting. All of these presses have been developed to print on
corrugated. It seems reasonable for them to make just one ink
that sticks to just one material. Typically, corrugated doesn't
require super critical print quality. These presses are screaming fast, at 2000 to 3000 sheets per hour, so, if you need this
quantity of only corrugated, you could print that all day.
The unit price of these presses is extremely expensive and
the size of the press takes up a lot of real estate. We think they
may be missing the boat in many respects by alienating the
market we're in: P-O-P printing. It's not a good fit for the
trends we experience where there is more versioning (variable
data), local marketing, and print-on-demand needs. We
wouldn't use a press meant to run thousands of sheets for our
short- to medium-run needs. We also need a press that would
print on a large variety of substrates.
MT: It's bound to continue to improve and become viable in
applications where volume and speed are critical. The barrier for
many may be the cost, especially in large-format applications.
The future for this technology is bright and will continue to be so
as technology and chemistry in the inkjet world advance.
RK: We're glad to see the larger 3D printers like Massivit
come to market that have the capability of producing much
larger products that can be used for displays more than 5 feet
high. This application lends itself to our niche in the P-O-P
and display market.
SC: Our largest bottleneck continues to be our finishing
department. With print technology moving to "breakneck"
speeds, the bottleneck happens at the cutting and assembly
stages. We continue to look for improvements in speed and
automation to increase throughput. We have just purchased
an automatic stacker for one of our digital cutters to have
"lights out" production.
KG: Our bottleneck is shifting materials and changeovers. Our
solution is batching projects.
CR: Getting the print output volume to match finishing. We have
added automated cutting systems to alleviate some of that.
For the umpteenth time in our
company's almost 24-year history, we
have made a major course correction
after attending ISA Expo earlier this
year. We have gone "all in," with the
future being 3D printing. We have
added our second and third 3D printers. ... Who says
tradeshows don't work?
We hope the builds from these revolutionary 3D printers
will be the most profitable application in today's market. We
all face commoditization and are looking for the "holy grail."
WHAT IS THE LARGEST BOTTLENECK ON YOUR
SHOP FLOOR? AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO
HELP STREAMLINE YOUR PRINT PROCESS?